Which Tree To Plant?

What tree species?

Healthy urban trees in our region need to be drought tolerant, sized right for the place they will be planted, and provide shade and other benefits. 

Consider these factors:

  • What motivates you to plant a tree? Shade and cooling? Food production? Native trees for forage, shelter and nesting for insects, birds and wildife?
  • How big do you want your tree to be when it is mature?
  • What tree form/shape is right for your spot? (Round, weeping, spreading, or upright?)
  • How about character, color, and special features? (Evergreen, deciduous, native, flowering, etc.)
  • How much time do you have for maintenance?
  • Can you let go of the “myths about trees?” Trees selection myths from arborist Magen Shaw

Ornamental, native and fruit trees suitable for San Diego urban growing conditions are listed in this table of trees.

  • Start by choosing tree size by measuring your planting space. Small trees are to be planted in planting space less than 25 feet, medium trees in planting spaces up to 50 feet, and large trees in planting space greater than 50 feet.
  • Decide whether you want a deciduous tree (that drops its leaves in the fall) or evergreen, that drops leaves throughout the year.
  • Check whether you can meet the tree’s “water needs.”
  • Determine whether you can grow the tree in your Western Sunset planting “zone,” using this planting zone map.
  • Descriptions, traits and photos of these trees and others are available by browsing UFEI’s Tree Selection Guide.
  • California’s native trees can be found at this list of native trees.  

See list of local nurseries that stock suitable trees.